Roll up, roll up
If you have a celebration coming up, you might want to bust out the cigars… These Moroccan-style canapes are sure to delight.
I’ve always longed to write about the mighty pastilla, a grand celebration dish from Morocco, a pie of pies, a heady and elaborate mix of sweet, salty and spicy; decadent, exotic and a little bit ridiculous. However, I know that we New Zealanders struggle with the idea of eating pigeon (which is what it is traditionally made with), let alone trying to source it, so I’m offering a sort of simplified take made with something a little closer to home.
I should point out that pigeon is delicious when done well – and if you can get hold of some non-city-park-pigeon or squab, go for it. Alternatively, you can use chicken; I’ve even made them with wild duck and they’ve been pretty damn delicious.
Make these as large or as small as you like; I think they make a pretty decent wee canape-ish sort of thing; but you may want to make them large enough for lunch or dinner. Use Medjool dates if you can get hold of them; they’re beautiful and well worth the investment.
FILO CIGARS WITH LAMB, PINE NUTS, RED ONION AND DATE
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Serves: 6-8 as a snack
1kg boneless lamb shoulder or leg 2 tbsp ras el hanout
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, finely sliced
4 large dates, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
Large handful each of mint and coriander, roughly
chopped 100g butter, melted 1 tsp cumin seeds
Filo pastry (a 375g packet will do perfectly)
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Rub the lamb down with a tablespoon of the ras el hanout, a good glug of olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for at least an hour and a half, until the meat is cooked through and is lovely and tender. Allow to cool down.
In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced red onion, chopped dates, pine nuts, and chopped mint and coriander with the remaining ras el hanout and a tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the lamb is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and fold into the red onion mixture. Taste and season accordingly.
Combine the melted butter and cumin seeds. Bring the heat of the oven up to 180C.
Lay out the filo and brush a layer with the melted butter, scattering a few cumin seeds over the surface. Add about a tablespoon of filling in a 5cm line in the centre, fold the top and bottom over and roll the sides across into a cigar shape, so that the filling is completely enclosed. Repeat until you are out of mixture. Brush with any remaining butter, place on a lined baking tray and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool a little before serving.